After riding the bench in SK Telecom T1’s last six matches, mid laner Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok made his long awaited return to the starting lineup in the team’s final regular season match against KINGZONE DragonX.
SKT had nothing to play for today—they are out of playoff contention after their loss to Griffin last week. But just because SKT failed to qualify for playoffs didn’t mean their season was over. With Hanwha Life Esports’ failure to also make playoffs SKT gained a spot in the upcoming regional finals, where a ticket to the World Championship is on the line.
With a place at the World Championship still attainable, SKT used today’s match as test to see how the team would perform with their star mid laner back in the lineup. Although Faker looked alright today, sadly some of his teammates could not say the same.
KINGZONE’s Han “Peanut” Wang-ho dominated SKT jungler Kang “Blank” Sun-gu’s Olaf in the early game, preventing SKT from finding any early leads. In addition to Peanut’s superb play, SKT’s side lanes had fell behind, meaning that Blank had nowhere to gank besides mid lane. Unable to find any advantages, Blank’s Olaf was quickly outscaled by Peanut’s Sejuani.
Faker could do little to stop his hemorrhaging side lanes. Faker tried to roam, and was even the first to skirmishes over KINGZONE mid laner Gwak “Bdd” Bo-seong. But by the time Faker arrived to said skirmishes, his teammates had already lost the fight.
Unable to win game one, Faker was benched once again for Choi “Pirean” Jun-sik. After Pirean’s very lackluster performance today though, it seems likely we’ll see Faker return to the starting line come come the regional finals.
While Faker fell slightly behind Bdd’s Zoe farm-wise, Pirean was completely dominated by the KINGZONE mid laner. Bdd solo killed Pirean multiple times during the lane phase. Far behind his lane competition, Pirean became useless for the entirety of game two. Unfortunately for SKT, their side lanes didn’t fare much better than Pirean, also falling behind during the lane phase.
Peanut carried his game one momentum into game two, once again outplaying Blank in the early phases of the game. Since Bdd was destroying Pirean on his own, Peanut could go snowball KINGZONE’s side lanes.
With their LCK regular season now over, SKT will have over one month before the regional finals takes place to determine whether they will focus on playing with Faker, or continue starting Pirean. Although no date has been confirmed expect the regional finals to take place sometime in September, following the LCK Summer Split finals.